New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is calling on the Biden administration to repeal a Trump-era executive order that cuts state funding from a key federal conservation program.
In a letter to U.S. Interior Department Deputy Secretary Shannon Estenoz, Sununu said changes to the Land and Water Conservation Fund by former President Donald Trump before he left office last month will have “significant adverse impacts” on the state’s outdoor recreational needs by “eliminating the ability to fund critical state and local infrastructure projects.”
“It is irresponsible to provide access to public lands and not provide adequate infrastructure to support that access, including investment in parking lots and restroom facilities, especially with unprecedented demand for outdoor experiences,” Sununu wrote.
Sununu, a Trump supporter who backed many of his policies, said the order put in place by the previous administration would “nullify” all the state’s pending funding requests to the National Park Service, which had been earmarked under a five-year program.
The conservation fund has provided nearly $40 million in grants for hundreds of New Hampshire’s state parks, heritage sites and other preservation projects since 1965, Sununu wrote.
“These funds have helped develop new state parks, expand current recreation resource offerings, provide local match for close-to-home park development and have helped shape our current outdoor recreation economy,” he wrote. “The current global pandemic has served to reinforce this proven concept as people everywhere are flocking to the great outdoors as never seen before.”
In 2019, the Trump administration gutted funding for the LWCF in the Department of the Interior budget, but lawmakers blocked the move and pumped $495 million into the program last year.
Last August, Congress approved the Great American Outdoors Act, which permanently earmarks money for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, but funding is allocated annually as part of the federal budget.
But the Trump administration issued Secretarial Order 3388 in November, which set strict requirements on requests for land acquisitions by states and cut the list of funded projects.
President Joe Biden is considering a repeal of the Interior Department’s order along with dozens of other Trump-era administration environmental policies.